How Small Business Owners Should Get in Touch With Their Target Market

When it comes of online marketing most of small business owners tend to raise their shoulders and think on short term advantages. But did you know that 40 percent of the new businesses will fail in the first three years of their existence? That is because most small business owners do not make long term plans and tend to use bad alternatives to promote their businesses.

Get Involved

For small business owners online marketing is not an easy job. It takes time and energy to develop and implement online marketing techniques that really work for a specific website.

First step you should do is to determine your target market. Your customers wait for you to reach them. Because online marketing has so many strategies you can take advantage of, you should first focus on the group of consumers you want to get into contact. It would be a waste of resources to try to implement strategies that reach people overseas if you have a local business.

How to get to local customers

If you want to be noticed in your area you should address to your neighbors. Not literally, but to try to get to them using the internet. After all, this is not such a hard step because you live in the same environment with your target and you know what its main concerns are. This way you can easily estimate how much money a person or family in your area is willing to spend for your services or products.

Communication is a very important aspect for every business. Keeping close contact to your target should be your main concern. But how to do it nowadays? You cannot just go on the street and try to convince people to come and buy from you. You can easily attract new customers through texts and images. In this article I will mainly focus on texts that can help you attract people from outside to your website.

Articles

Maybe you never liked to write stuff when you went to school, but internet is mainly about written information and transmitting the information to those who search for it. One good way to get to your local target is to write articles about topics related to your business and then submit them on several directories.

Articles are very useful for traffic ranking. There are sites where you can submit articles to and they will distribute them to their readers. To really take advantage of your articles they must be rich in keywords that are related to your website. Articles must attract readers so, it is important to set a good title, to give useful information about the domain you are activating. Always relate the title with the article and do not try to fool the audience because you are the one that will lose in the end.

To give you a small idea about article writing, think on the pages on your site. You added useful information to promote your business. An article is not exactly like that, because most article directories will not allow you direct publicity. But you always have a box at the end of the article where you can add a link and a small description of your site and business.

How does writing articles help you? Let us think that you own a beauty salon. A women, let us name her Georgia from Glen Echo, is looking for a beauty salon in her area. Last time she went to a beauty salon and she considered that she paid too much for the services. Now she is searching on the internet for a new beauty salon and one of the search results is an article. You previously wrote an article titled How to be beautiful in Glen Echo and submitted in an article directory. Georgia reads this articles she finds some good beauty tips and she wants to get more information about your business. Because she thinks that last time she was ripped off, now she will go to your website, look for price list and your address. She likes what she reads and decides that tomorrow morning will call you. Do you get now the role of submitting articles to promote your business?

Press releases

Press releases are very good for promoting new products, services or events. They are very good in promoting your business and get in touch with new partners and customers. Do not forget that press releases must be rich in keywords, just like the articles. A press release is a very good opportunity to announce journalists about an event, invite them to the event, and maybe read an article in a local newspaper about it. I worked in the media for a while and I can tell you that are times when journalists just crave for a new topic. Get in touch with some local journalists, create a connection with them and you will see benefits.

Press releases work just like articles when it comes to search engines and displaying results. Do not get into the trap that press releases are only for the big companies. You can promote a new product, services in simple words by making them wish they had what you are promoting for.

Getting in touch with your target market must be a priority when you want to make a name on the internet. There are numerous and efficient ways to do it. Building a name is a step by step process that will attract financial benefits for your business.

What’s Haunting Your Business?

Lot’s of businesses have ghosts of things past that haunt them on a daily basis. In fact, there are probably a few ghosts or goblins hanging around your company. Even when you don’t see them, they can hide in plain sight and hold your business back from reaching its full potential.

These are not real ghosts (if there is such as thing) but shadows of poor decisions, past employees and customer relationships that died a slow painful death. The shadows of these events color employee perspectives, inhibit risk taking and undermine motivation.

Like most entrepreneurs, I’m an optimistic and prefer to look on the bright side rather than dwell on the past. If you feel the same way, you may find it challenging to think about exorcising the demons you can’t see when there is a new deal to chase or a fresh opportunity on the horizon.

Even so, it pays to take some time periodically to go ghost hunting and you can free your business from these pesky and potentially painful echoes of your business history. Things that can haunt your business include the ongoing effects of…

  • A bad-apple employee who undermined trust and disrupted your company culture.
  • A poor manager who was divisive and created lasting walls between team members.
  • A customer relationship that soured, leaving bitter feelings behind.
  • A partnership that derailed, unraveling business opportunities and hurting revenue potential.
  • Legal issues that contribute to a culture of fear and reduce risk-taking or innovation.
  • Financial challenges that undermine investment opportunities and inhibit growth.

To get rid of these ghosts for good – or stop them from taking up residence in the first place – try this:

Discuss and debrief. When a business faces a setback it is tempting for employees and management to deal with the issue by pretending it never happened. A healthier approach is to acknowledge the event with a debrief session that allows people to express their feeling and observations. Sharing the impact of the experience allows people to unburden themselves rather than dragging extra baggage around and suffering from the excess weight they’re carrying..

Learn the lesson and move on. Every situation holds lessons to be learned, but in the rush to “get back to business” its easy to lose sight of them. Use your debrief sessions to uncover that was really learned by your team, even if this process requires some probing, poking and prodding. Once you find the lessons, work on internalizing what you’ve learned so you don’t end up stuck in the past, repeating old mistakes.

Undo the damage. Even after you learn the critical business lessons from these events, the damage can echo on. Watch for ripple effects that linger. These may include subtle cultural shifts like hyper conservative decision making, employees fearful of retribution when risks don’t pay off or a general reluctance to stretch outside the norm. If you notice your team is boxing itself in to avoid repeating a painful past, tackle the problem head on. Address the issue openly and encourage a return to a healthy environment.

Small Telephone Systems Verses Multi-line Business Phones

Choosing the right telephone system from start is always the best path, but not always the most economical. Before you head down to your local electronic store and pick up the cheapest multi-line business phone you can find, here are few pointers you should keep in mind.

Many multi-line business phones have a pretty decent feature set such as voicemail, caller ID, call waiting ID, 3 way calling and intercom (in multi phone setups). These phones integrate the Key System Unit (or KSU) into the phone itself, which means each individual telephone functions as its own “mini phone system.” The term KSU, (Key System Unit, Key Signaling Unit or Key Service Unit) dates back to the early day’s phone systems, it’s basically “the Brain” of the phone system. All call processing data and telephone line interfacing is carried out by the KSU. For many small offices with less than 4 phones (extensions) and 4 telephone lines, these multi-line phones are adequate and economical. However, as a business grows, the many disadvantages of these phones begin to show their merits.

By comparison, multi-line business phones are sold with the marketing term, “KSU-less design,” which translates (in buyers minds) to lower overall costs. Small telephone systems on the other hand include a separate KSU unit or “Brain” in addition to each telephone. A major disadvantage comes to play when you are interfacing your phones with the telephone company lines. The KSU acts as the “line interface,” for a phone system, all major system connections terminate at the KSU. Now with each multi-line phone acting as its own “mini phone system,” each phone now needs direct connections to each telephone line.

A single telephone line consists of 1 pair of wires. Almost all multi-line phones support up to 4 lines, meaning each multi-line phone needs up to 4 pairs of wires or the equivalent of a standard Cat5e cable. As you begin to add more KSU-less phones to your office you must factor in the cost to install another drop of cat5e (or cat5) cable. You must also account for the additional termination blocks in your telephone closet where all these phones must be “Bridged” (or shared) to the 4 phone lines. As you can imagine, for installations with more than say 4 or 5 phones the wiring aspect can get pretty complex. Anything over 6 or 7 phones will be a wiring mess, if done unprofessionally, which adds to the cost of these low budget systems. However, this bridged connection is how multi-line phones “intercom” one another. By sending a signal over each bridged line, each extension can communicate without actually tying up any of the 4 phone lines. As long as every multi-line phone is connected to all 4 lines (or matching number of lines if less than 4), each phone can intercom each other internally while keeping the phone lines free for external calls.

Small Telephones Systems on the other hand, which come equipped with a separate, dedicated KSU unit, are at a distinct advantage in both areas. Having a single KSU unit means a single interface point for the telephone line connections. Many small telephone systems need only a single pair of wire to connect each extension telephone. What this means is if you are deploying a number of phones in one particular area, you can save dramatically on cabling costs by having your contractor “split” the single Cat5e cable into, at most, 4 single telephone jacks! – This becomes very cost effective as you deploy additional phones. (However, many pros will only split single Cat5 cable once for 2 telephone jacks leaving the remaining wires as spare pairs). Cable management becomes much easier (and neater) as you need not worry about bridging 10 phones to 4 telephone lines. One single pair of wires (to connect to a telephone) of the 3 or 4 pairs in a standard telephone cable is enough for as many lines as the small telephone system can handle since the actual line connections are at the dedicated KSU unit and not at the individual telephone.

Another plus for the small telephone system is the ease of transitioning to a larger phone system. The wiring scheme for the most part will remain the same albeit installing more cable drops to new areas. Not so much the same for the multi-line business phones. Depending on how each phone was “bridged” to interface to those 4 telephone lines, this entire wiring scheme may need to be undone as most small (and large) telephone systems require individual (not bridged or shared) connections to the KSU.

Programming wise there is one disadvantage when comparing small business telephone systems to multi-line business phones, which can be viewed as multiple disadvantages. Since each individual telephone functions as its own KSU it also functions as its own Voicemail unit (if equipped). Which means if you want to enable an Auto Attendant feature (where your callers are greeted by a company recording instructing them to press 1 for Joe Boss, 2 for Sales Manager etc…) you will have to record this greeting for as many times as you have voicemail enabled phones (up to 4). Here’s why, with most multi-line business phones, the voicemail feature includes a personal voicemail box for the extension and an optional auto attendant feature. The auto attendant feature can only handle one call at a time; ergo if you want the system to answer up to 4 incoming calls simultaneously you need at least 4 auto attendant enabled phones. So technically speaking you must record the same auto attendant greeting 4 times, 1 on each phone. You must also enable the system mailbox for each of the 4 phones to accept general messages. You now have 4 different phones/voicemail boxes in your office where you must check for general messages. This is known as a general mailbox, which is a default destination for callers who do not press a menu option or dial an extension. This scenario is not efficient for larger setups but may work for smaller ones.

With a small business telephone system, there is just one central voicemail unit which can handle multiple calls at once. Storage times are much greater and there is just one mailbox for general messages. You can also take advantage of advanced features (if equipped) such as voicemail to email (where the system sends the voicemail in a standard wav format to your email address), which in this fast paced world can be a BIG time saver and added convenience.

One last point on this topic to cover quickly; with the advent of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) continually proving its cost effective existence, many businesses find themselves wanting to take advantage of these savings. Many small business telephone systems on the market today are equipped to handle VoIP telephone lines through either a simple hardware or software upgrade. An upgrade may include adding an Ethernet (or media) port to the system or if already equipped, simply enabling this port through software activation. Simply plugging this unit into your company LAN and perhaps minor firewall configuration you can now start saving on land line costs by calling out over less expensive VoIP lines.

Multi-line business telephone can benefit as well but through a 3rd party VoIP gateway. This gateway converts a VoIP line (sometimes called a “Trunk”) to a standard telephone port. You will need as many gateways as you want lines, (or opt for a multi-port unit). However you may have to plan on spending some time configuring and adjusting the settings of the unit to obtain the proper volume levels while minimizing echo and other artifacts that may be induced when converting the signal from a standard Analog telephone line to SIP or other VoIP protocol. Many high end units come with built in (hardware or software) echo cancellers and noise suppressors which minimize these adjustments (and work very well) but increase the cost of the gateway dramatically.

To conclude, although it may seem like great savings early in your start up phase, for needs of 4 or less external lines and extension phones, the multi-line business phone can actually prove to be a cost effective solution. In my humble opinion these multi-line phones are better suited for a home office (or SOHO) situation. If you have big plans to expand exponentially (and don’t we all!) I recommend you at least consider a small business telephone system. Although a bit more initial investment is required, the benefits far out way the cost disadvantage if not cancel it out completely.

Copyright © 2009 Damian Parkins for PBX Interactive, LLC. All Rights Reserved.